Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Agriculture and Alimentation Facing Consumers' Choice

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Agriculture and Alimentation Facing Consumers' Choice

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The food problem constitutes a major concern nowadays, both nationally and internationally, targeting mainly the most effective solutions for balancing the ratio between resources and consumption needs or, in other terms, the food security of the population.

The assessment of agriculture and perspectives of food section infers, taking into consideration and correlating three aspects: the evolution of global economy, the demographic tendencies at a worldwide scale and the environmental factors.

Firstly, the food problem is tightly connected to demographic growth, as the quantitative and qualitative evolution of the population is determined by its feeding capacity. Even if the evolution of the human species has produced permanent changes in the alimentary behaviour, feeding manner and process of food obtaining, the question of providing a sufficient food supply from a qualitative, quantitative and structural point of view, has become an increasing concern for most countries in the world in the past 50 years. The matter has been highlighted by world food organizations such as F.A.O., O.M.S., and CodexAlimentariusCommission on numerous occasions. This very concern is the direct consequence of realizing the connection between health and access to alternative, both diverse and nourishing, sources. Under the circumstances, it should be pointed out the food evolution throughout the history of humanity, from a natural, biological product, to a more or less pure product in terms of chemical composition, physically and biochemically modified, to a complex product, more or less nutritionally improved and sometimes (according to present biotechnologies) reconstructed.

The past two centuries have been branded by the emergence of industry and thus brought an increasing food complexity by adding non-conventional products to the classical raw materials, such as ultra-processed refined substances and chemical additives which drift away from their primary purpose, namely, living products that feed living bodies. One should add to this globalization of the alimentary production which is currently occurring by now, so that one shall get to a worldwide gearing that drives the obtaining of agricultural products from where the costs are lower, after which they are simply transported to where the demand is higher or simply exists. The system in itself is extremely fragile, as any factor could affect food transportation (e.g. increase of the energy price) or transporters' possibility to commercialize (e.g. productions affected by natural disasters and meteorological conditions) turns into a major risk of isolating entire regions, specialized in growing a single species or, worse, producing independently a small amount of the necessary food and, consequently, highly dependent on imports.

Secondly, the alimentary economy is highly cautious when it comes to unexpected changes. This system is propelled by huge economic impulses, where each component of the globalized supply chain, from the private farm to the largest food company, is created for and depends on the continuous expansion of production. The elements which dispute this chain are either removed or absorbed. The organic movement manifested in the fortieth last century as an open criticism towards the large scale food production, up to the ninetieth, was co-opted by the same system so that, currently, a significant share of organic food is being produced by the same large-scale system, at low costs and distributed by the same mammoth traders. Further on, although a segment of consumers begin to realize the perils of the present alimentary system and are demanding healthier and more environmentally-friendly products, this defiance is rather confined by the fiscal, structural and technical boundaries of the industry. Therefore, despite the fact that the companies producing food will replace (often under the pressure exerted by consumers) the harmful products with healthier/healthy ones, the latter are widely built up within clone-like production, processing, distribution, marketing and financing systems which actually conveys a compromise or a even gap between consumers' desires and the strategic and technical constraints of producers. …

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